Corns and Calluses

We ask a lot of our hands and feet. We cram our feet into shoes and walk around all day. And we may apply great force to our hands as we work with tools in our jobs or at home. These actions subject our skin to friction and pressure, these repetitive actions cause corns and calluses to develop and grow. Our skin then protects itself by building up corns and calluses — thick, hardened layers of skin.

The signs and symptoms of a corn or callus include: thick, rough area of skin; hardened, raised bump; tenderness or pain under the skin; flaky, dry or waxy skin.

Although corns and calluses can be unsightly, medical experts agree they need treatment only if they cause discomfort. For most people, eliminating the source of friction or pressure makes corns and calluses disappear. People with diabetes or other conditions that cause poor circulation to the feet are at greater risk for complications and should seek their doctor's advice on caring for corns and calluses.

  • Corns are smaller than calluses and have a hard center surrounded by inflamed skin. Corns usually develop on parts of the feet that don't bear weight, such as the tops and sides of toes. Corns can be painful when pushed or may cause a dull ache.
  • Calluses usually develop on the soles of the feet (especially under the heels or balls), on the palms, and on the knees. Calluses are rarely painful and vary in size and shape. They can be more than an inch in diameter, making them larger than corns.

Care of Corns and Calluses

  • First, soak the hands or feet in warm, soapy water to soften corns and calluses. This will make it easier to remove some of the thickened skin with a pumice stone or file.
  • Exfoliate the skin to start the process of reducing them.
  • File down corns and calluses with professional tools designed for this purpose, such as foot files.
  • Don’t attempt to remove all of the thickened skin in one visit. To do so could be painful and/or lead to an infection. The body developed the corn or callus to protect itself, so until whatever is causing them is addressed; simply removing them will be a loosing (and painful) battle.
  • After filing, dry the skin and moisturize thoroughly.
  • Recommend a lotion or cream (one you sell in your salon of course!) for the client to use on a daily basis at home.
  • Schedule pedicures every 2-3 weeks until the situation improves, then monthly visits to maintain results.

Corns and calluses should never be cut or shaved, as doing so could lead to infection. This practice is also illegal according to many state boards regulations. Only those who are legally licensed and trained, should cut skin of any kind.

The best treatment for corns and calluses usually involves avoiding the repetitive actions that causes them to develop in the first place. Nail technicians should instruct clients on methods to help prevent future corns and calluses.

  • Wear comfortable, well-cushioned shoes and socks that fit properly.
  • Wear padded gloves when using hand tools, or pad the tool handles with cloth tape orcovers.
  • When necessary, wear felt pads or bandages over areas that rub against footwear.

Consult a doctor if the condition doesn’t improve, worsens, causes more pain than usual, or shows signs of infection.